Yoga is a great exercise for beginners. I know many people who aren’t in the best shape are afraid of yoga. Well, it’s no wonder. Yoga is usually associated with skinny, twiggy girls twisting themselves in graceful pretzels. Those, who are less than skinny can’t image themselves in those poses, so they fear that they will be embarrassed. Not to worry, yoga is one of the most accepting forms of exercise if you know the type to pick.
Yoga is awesome for flexibility, balance, and to a lesser extent, physical strength. It’s also a great stress reducer. Research has also showed that hatha (breathing based yoga) and relaxation yoga can help with controlling weight, improving mood, reducing stress, and lowering blood pressure. Unlike the gym, which is about pushing limits, yoga is the opposite. It’s about listening to your body, and only going as far as you are capable. Yoga poses are designed to help the body go through the full range of motion. If you have limitations in mobility, it will isolate them so you can focus on improving them.
Before you start any new exercise program, you should always consult your doctor. Once you are in the clear, there are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind. First, you need to find a style of yoga that suits you. I find that for beginners, hatha yoga and relaxation yoga are best. Bikram, or “hot yoga”, is much more regimented and not the best choice for starting out. Research the classes near you to make sure that the style of yoga that they offer meets your needs.
Second, it’s important to find an instructor that you like. Make sure that he or she is willing to work with beginners. Ideally, see if they have beginner classes or introductory classes. This is a good sign that they are willing to work with new people. Individual lessons are an option if the class room model intimidates you for your first time.
Third, remember, yoga is about going at your own pace. If a teacher or a class doesn’t support this, don’t go back. Yoga is not a boot camp sport. Listen to your body, if it says stop, stop. A supportive class will be there to help. Finally, please don’t compare your progress to others. Yoga is not a competitive sport. It’s about you, and where you are going. It has nothing to do with where other people are. Remember that, and you will do well.
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